EMMITSBURG, MD -- It's crunch time here for the staff of the National Fallen Firefighters' Foundation.
They are busy tending to details for the 27th annual national memorial service to honor firefighters who gave the ultimate sacrifice in 2007. Events are set for this weekend.
The vigil coverage will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 4. The National Memorial Service event stream will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5. Dave Statter and Hillary Howard will be the co-hosts.
The names of 101 firefighters who died last year as well as those of nine others who perished in previous years will be added to a plaque at the National Fallen Firefighters' Memorial during a ceremony on Sunday.
So far, the families of 96 heroes have made plans to attend the memorial weekend events, said Linda Hurley, chief of staff.
As any host or hostess, Hurley and others are going over every detail to make sure the activities go off without a hitch. "We want everything to go well for the families. That's what it's all about," she said as she looked up from her computer.
Among the nearly 1,000 family members and friends registered are the survivors of nine Charleston firefighters killed in a furniture store fire in June 2007.
New bricks purchased by various individuals and organizations were placed in the memorial walk over the past few days.
Grounds crews have been busy sprucing up, planting mums and mulching.
Last week, a core group of staff members met to review every single aspect of the planned events.
Returning survivors who will be lending a hand to new families will gather in Frederick on Thursday night for an event.
On Friday night, families will attend a reception at the Holiday Inn. Members of the Frederick County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association will be on hand to welcome them to the area, and answer questions.
On Saturday morning, there will be grief counseling sessions as well as activities for children on the NFA campus.
The crowd will gather about noon to watch the motorcyclists involved in the Red Helmet Ride arrive on campus. They will lay a wreath at the memorial.
Family members will light a luminary for their loved one during a candlelight vigil Saturday night at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.
Those attending the National Memorial Service at 10 a.m. Sunday will be directed to parking areas where shuttle service will be available.
NFFF Executive Director Ron Siarnicki said the memorable event would not be possible if it weren't for the volunteers involved. Fire service personnel from across the country share the responsibilities ranging from honor guard details to escorts, transportation and logistics.
Details and issues that arise are handled out of a command post set up on campus.
"This works out well," Siarnicki said. "We have an outstanding cadre of people..."